This universe started as energy and cooled to form two elements: hydrogen and helium. Those two elements coalesced into stars. These early stars died and, in the process, exploded to form other types of matter such as carbon and oxygen. Billions of years of this cycle of star formation and destruction led to the life we see around us. We think of space as a place far from here, alien to our experience, when it is the cradle from which we were born. Click on the image for a larger view.